Tony Rinaldo spent years trying to plant trees to re-afforest desert areas. He finally realised that the trees were already in the desert but in a grazed coppice form and very small. By selecting one stem to grow on into a tree and keeping stock away for a few years he has managed to help farmers re-afforest millions of hectares of desert to productive natural forest. Watch the You tube below.
On Backsbottom Farm the sheep are allowed to move around the farm in the summer as they wish. They alternate from the warmer more midgey bottom up onto the fell land. As they move up and down they wear down the feet on our track and this stops them getting foot rot. They also get a good variety of herbs in the different fields. Our hay meadows are cut once a year after July 24th and no fertility is added. Over the years the fields have developed a great diversity of plants. These include nitrogen fixers; birds foot trefoil (This is used for its worming qualities in New Zealand), red and white clovers. Deep rooting plantains which are good for bringing minerals to the surface. These fields also have a healthy population of earthworms which help aerate and add fertility to the soil. The worms attract in the moles, who open up the soil structure and prevent waterlogging. The moles bring soil up to the surface where it can be influenced by the planetary influences according to Biodynamic methods. Over many of the fields we have yellow meadow ants nests. These are mounds of earth that are covered with grasses and herbs. They usually have a large rock as heat store in the middle. The ants are an important food for the Green woodpeckers. Encouraging wildlife diversity helps keep the orchards free from pests
The Problem is the Solution One problem we have in the forest garden is that there is an abundance of prunings from the soft fruit and fruit trees. This can be used as the fertility base for a Hugel bed and breaks down over the years to provide nutrients for the plants growing on top. Another problem is the number of nettles. These can be used for many things. The fibres can be used to make string. The leaves can be put in water and as they rot down they produce a great fertility tea. A more personal problem was fairly regular back ache. After many years I realised that I needed to stretch and warm up my muscles each morning. I do a simple Chinese 8 direction exercise each morning. This get all my muscles moving and stimulates all the meridians.. It takes about 10 minutes and enables me to work much harder during the day and all signs of back ache have gone.
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